Published by the
Committee for the Defense of Civil Rights in Tamp
Room 506, 112 Easi 19th Street
New York City
,, who was
A man is dead.
Not an ordinary man.
A man who gave his life for you.
What? How could he? You never knew him?
Then meet Joseph Shoemaker, a kindly, good-natured, soft-
spoken man, tall, heavy-set, dark-haired, who came to Florida from
his Vermont home in May of 1935, never to return.
Meet Joseph Shoemaker, who was killed because he said:
"There is neither peace nor security in America today —
and there cannot be — until we provide work for the great
mass of the unemployed."
-Joseph Shoemaker, killed because of his great crime — helping
to organize workers, employed and unemployed.
Joseph Shoemaker, who believed in a system of production for
use instead of profit, who wanted to rest his case with a "democratic
decision" from the people of America.
Joseph Shoemaker, who left home one night not long ago, never
suspecting that he was being framed by Tampa cops and Ku Klux
Klan night riders; never suspecting —
That he would be illegally arrested, then kidnaped and flogged;
That an inhuman gang would deliberately burn him, then pour
boiling tar on his body;
That he would lie in a ditch for seven hours, unconscious, naked
and half frozen;
That an armed guard would keep vigil outside his hospital door,
lest his kidnapers, not satisfied with battering his head and throat,
try to silence him;
That he would finally succumb, after a nine-day battle for life.
POLICE RAID PRIVATE HOME
On the evening of November 30, 1935, six men were seated
around a table in the home of Mrs. A. M. Herald, matron of the
Hillsborough County, (Tampa) jail. The men were framing a con-
stitution and by-laws for the Modern Democrats, a liberal political
o;anization formed by Shoemaker. They were patterning their
itution after that of the American Legion.
Gallant fighter for the rights <md liberties of American labor, who was
tortured and murdered by Tampa police and Ru> Klux Klan
Mr. Herald and his daughter were listening to the radio in the
Suddenly, seven police officers entered. Three came in the front
door and four in the back. Guns were drawn, papers were grab-
bed, the men were searched.
"Why the raid?" the police were asked.
"Orders from the chief, chief of detectives," said
"Smitty" Brown. Chief of Detectives Bush, however, told re-
porters later, "If anybody said I ordered the raid, they are mis-
taken. I didn't know anything about it."
The six men were piled into police cars, driven to headquarters,
there booked and grilled. Under the head "Why Held" two words
were written: "Investigate communists."
Who were these "communists"?
Joseph A. Shoemaker, 47, chairman Modern Democrats, for-
merly a member of the Socialist Party.
Eugene F. Poulnot, member of the Socialist Party and chairman
of the Florida Workers' Alliance, who tries to support his family
of seven on a WPA wage of $30 a month. Poulnot was formerly
president of the Pressmen's Union, A. F. of L.
Sam D. Rogers, Socialist, with an M.D. degree from Loyola
College, now a WPA worker.
Walter Roush, president of the Sulphur Springs Workers Al-
liance, an unemployed organization, and on the state executive
committee of the Socialist Party.
Charles E. Jensen, state secretary of the Socialist Party.
And the sixth man — J. A. McCaskill, a city fireman whose
father is a policeman. He deserves special mention, according to
the Tampa Tribune of December 12, which states:
"The state investigators have found evidence that leads
them to believe Shoemaker and the others were framed.
When the meeting started, five men were there, but Poulnot
was missing. So one of the five got into his car and went
for Poulnot. A moment later Brown and Wyman raided the
McCaskill was the man who went to so much trouble to get
Poulnot. His name was scratched from the police detention book,
and "0. R. Sauls" written in its place. There is no such person
in Tampa! McCaskill was immediately released.
At the police station, the other men were questioned, then re-
leased one by one. Two of them returned home unharmed, but the
other three —
KIDNAPING— TORTURE— MURDER
Poulnot was suspicious when the police returned his wallet, told
him he was free, for he knew unemployed leaders were usually
held in jail for hours or several days. One of the plainclothesmen
took Poulnot to a car parked at the Florida Avenue entrance to
the jail, and said, "Let's get in. We've caused you enough trouble,
we'll take you back."
Poulnot noticed a man at the wheel, another man in back hold-
ing the door open. He said he'd walk home.
"Don't argue with him," said the man in back. "Put the
The officer grabbed Poulnot's collar. Poulnot screamed and re-
sisted. A Police Lieutenant, who was standing ten feet away,
according to Poulnot, made no move to aid him. Later, some
policemen were to testify they heard the screams, others were
to swear they hadn't. When a crowd gathered, the kidnapers lied,
"We're taking a crazy man to Chattahoochee."
Poulnot was pushed to the floor of the car, a foot placed on
his neck. The car stopped in Tampa's warehouse district and a
bag was put over Poulnot's head. Other care were there. Drinks
were passed around.
Another car drove up and Shoemaker, who weighed 230 pounds,
was dumped on top of Poulnot. A man hit Shoemaker on the neck
with a blunt instrument.
The cars started up, drove to the Bloomingdale district, near
Brandon, fourteen miles from Tampa. When they arrived, Rogers
was already being flogged.
While Rogers was in jail, he had heard Poulnot yell for help,
so when he was released and a policeman took his arm and said,
"Come, I will take you to your room," he knew what to expect.
But he showed no fear. He was put into a car "in the driveway
between the police station and the city hall," and driven to the
dock front. There he was blindfolded, shifted to another car, told:
"Get down on your hands and knees. Don't make any noise or it
will be over with you." A man put his foot on Rogers' neck, a
revolver against his ear.
When the car stopped, Rogers was grabbed, stripped, placed
over a log. His hands and feet were held while he was beaten with
a rough hose. Then tar was applied to his abdomen, sexual organs
Poulnot was flogged with a chain and a rawhide, then tarred
and feathered. He went unconscious several times. Once, as he
"came to," a man said: "The is faking. Let's give it to him."
All the tortures that Shoemaker went through will never be
known. He was too horribly mutilated to ever tell. Investigators
agreed later that boiling tar had been poured on his body and
had burned into his lacerated flesh. When brought to the Centro
Espanol Hospital his entire body was black from tar. For seven
hours he had lain outside, unconscious on a night suddenly turned
cold. For hours after he was brought to the hospital, it was pos-
sible to warm him only with hot water bottles. His right leg had
been held over a fire — burned and lacerated.
Doctors visting other patients in the hospital, looked into his
room, were shocked.
Said one leading Tampa surgeon:
"He is horribly mutilated. I wouldn't beat a hog the way
that man was whipped. He was beaten until he is para-
lyzed on one side, probably from blows on the head. He
cannot say anything to you; he does not know what hap-
pened. He can't use one arm, and I doubt if three square
feet would cover the total area of bloodshot bruises on his
body, not counting the parts injured only by tar."
Abandoned in the woods when their assailants fled, the three
victims started back to Tampa, but Shoemaker was too weak, and
his two comrades left him, went on to summon aid. His brother,
Jack Shoemaker, former commander of the Tampa American
Legion, with whom Rogers immediately returned, found him, took
him to the hospital.
For nine days he hung between life and death, suffering hor-
rible agony- In a desperate attempt to save his life, his foot was
amputated. He died soon after.
People in Tampa,' in Florida, throughout America, began to
ask: "Why were they kidnaped?"
THE KU KLUX KLAN RIDES AGAIN
Your Country Is Calling You
The Klan Rides to
Stop! Look! Listen!
Communism Must Go! America, Wake Up!
Hate, Bondage, Prison And Starvation.
Free Love, Children State Property,
Dictated Thought by a Few.
Feat lo Express Thought by Speech or Press.
Overthrow, of All Government.
The Red Flag of Deatructiorj.
Overthrow of All Religion.
Love, Peace, Freedom, God.
Home, Husband, Wife and Children.
Free School* of Patriotic Thought
Free Speech and Free Press.
Government of the People.
The Star* and Stripes Forever.
Right lo Worship God as we Please.
You have read of "The midnight ride of Paul Revere." calling the Minute Men to arms to free u»
from^yranny^ MiDNIGHT ^^ QF M KU KLUX KLAN. calling you to save our country and
!t» '"«£■£«; f h Ku K!u]C Kla „ u delerm ; nc d to drive out of the United States these vicious, alien
radicals and to eradicate their radical thought from every rank, class and group of the American people,
through o nationytde concerted campaign. In this job. they are ent.tled to the hearty support of every
*"■" TbiKnSiU oTthe Ku Klus Klan invite* and pleads for your help to save our country before ft fe
too late. We do not want money but we need YOU and your support.
MODERN COMMUNISM CHALLENGES ALL DECENCY AND CIVILIZATION
This organization i. determined to fight to the \^^^^^]^SJ^"S^t^^
on our government and its American institution*. If you are a Red Blooded. Native Bom. American
Citizen and believe with us, fill oat the coupon below.
"— ---——- " — ~ ~"o«r»tt«athlt ti«« ttt4 m»M.
P. O. Box 1975.
I want to help save our country and am ready to ride with yo*.
(Stat* Khcrs emptor**)
RESIDENCE ADDRESS — " " ~
Severed weeks after the kidnaping of Shoemaker, Poulnot and Rogers' and
the murder of Shoemaker by Tampa police and Klansmen, the above
leaflet was widely distributed in Tampa. It speaks for itself
In part this question was answered in less than two weeks when
the men arrested for the murder and kidnaping were released
on bail. And the bail was supplied by labor-hating, anti-union
Tampa provides 65% of the cigars consumed in America. The
Tampa cigar bosses carry on a constant campaign to prevent the
organization of cigar-makers unions. In 1910 five labor organizers
were lynched in the city. In 1931 a manufacturers' secret committee
staged an intensive anti-union drive which is still going on. Anita
Brenner, writing in the Nation of December 7, 1932, revealed
how the Tampa police and vigilantes aid in hindering labor or-
ganization. The gangsters and vigilantes bred by the corrupt con-
ditions of the city are always ready to do an industrial or political
The Committee for the Defense of Civil Rights in Tampa was
formed, with Norman Thomas as chairman. David Lasser, chair-
man of the Workers Alliance of America, was sent to Florida by
the Committee as special investigator.
William Green, president of the American Federation of Labor,
after hearing the details of the case from representatives of the
committee, threatened to move the 1936 A. F. of L. convention
from Tampa to another city unless the guilty persons were fully
Hundreds of A. F. of L. unions, locals, internationals, city and
state bodies, have added their voices to the mounting roar of
protest. Tampa unions and the Tampa central labor body demand-
ed forthright action.
Day after day the two Tampa newspapers printed protests from
outraged citizens, flashed the' story across page one.
On December 16 Norman Thomas publicly charged the Ku Klux
Klan with having a hand in the crime. Imperial Wizard Evans,
from his marble-columned home in Atlanta, denied the charge
and spoke of Thomas as "a dangerous man."
At first the city administration expressed pious horror and
"went through the motions." Then came the wave of protests and
charges. The sheriff, who is not a city appointee, moved to track
down the criminals.
Nine days after Shoemaker died six city policemen were ar-
rested, charged with murder and kidnaping. They were released
on $9,500 bail each, supplied by certain cigar manufacturers. Four
days later two more arrests were made, this time of members of
the Ku Klux Klan. Soon a third Klansman was jailed. Norman
Thomas' charges were proved to be true. '
WHAT WENT BEFORE
Kidnaping is a favorite Florida sport.
In the last six years, twelve men have been kidnaped in Tampa
and surrounding towns.
The black record reads as follows:
James F. Bickers, St. Petersburg attorney, flogged in 1929. A
Tampa gang was blamed.
H. R. Jameson of Tarpon Springs, Owen Jackson of Elfers, and
W. R. Oxford, a paint shop owner of St. Petersburg, — all kid-
naped and beaten in 1931.
Constable F. A. Howard of Ballast Point was taken from his
home in 1931 by men posing as federal officers. He was hand-
cuffed, taken to a lonely spot north of Tampashores, and beaten.
The handcuffs indicated collusion on the part of the police.
Frank Norman, active in the United Citrus Workers' Union and
representative of the International Labor Defense, disappeared
under much the same circumstances as Howard.
Robert M. Cargell, lawyer, was seized on a St. Petersburg street
by a band of five men last March 20, taken to a wooded section
north of Clearwater, and there mutilated.
From a line up of twenty men in Tampa police headquarters,
Cargell picked F. W- Switzer, suspended city policeman, under
indictment for Shoemaker's murder, as one of his kidnapers.
Switzer is now under $5,000 bond in the Cargell case, $7,500 for
Shoemaker's death, and $1,000 each for kidnaping Rogers and
Poulnot — a grand total of $14,500 on his head.
Cargell claims: "My case and the Tampa flogging murder are
so remarkably similar they cannot be dismissed as mere coinci-
In circumstances similar to the Shoemaker case, S. G. Crawford,
and a man named Gorden were arrested in 1933 at a labor meet-
ing, taken to police headquarters for questioning on alleged com-
munistic activities, then seized and beaten.
It is known that the Ku Klux Klan held a state convention in
full regalia at Clearwater several months ago. Rumors are cur-
rent in Tampa today that Shoemaker, Poulnot and Rogers were
only three "on a list of 20 to be given the works." It is definitely
known that a Justice of the Peace, from a Tampa suburb, recently
told Shoemaker, "We'll need some hangings to get rid of you
This man is a Klansman. He was downstairs in the jail the
night Shoemaker was kidnaped !
KLAN AND POLICE "COOPERATION"
This is not the first case in which the Klan and the police have
"cooperated." Everyone in Tampa concedes that the police and
fire departments are filled with Klansmen. It is even said that one
must belong to the hooded mob in order to become a cop.
Last October, Police Chief Tittsworth sent two cops, one of
them "Smitty" Brown, who led the murder raid, to pick up ' for
questioning" Walter T. Burrell, English teacher at Hillsborough
High School. Without a warrant, the cops nabbed Burrell as he
was engaged in the subversive task of coaching the high school
football team. The great Tittsworth questioned him for two hours
concerning some remarks he had made in one of his classes. Titts-
worth decided, finally, that Burrell was not a communist, though
he warned Burrell that he wasn't a good citizen.
Burrell happens to be a registered Democrat, who came to
Tampa seven years ago from Montana. When fellow-teachers pro-
tested the arrest, czar Tittsworth promised an apology— which
And at the police station there is no record of BurrelPs arrest!
After the Shoemaker kidnaping a series of remarkable statements
came from the mouth of Tittsworth.
The police chief claimed that he received the first news of the
kidnaping from the Tampa Tribune two days after the flogging.
A little later, the chief said his officers did not know whom they
^rere arresting at the Herald home. "All they were told was that
a group of dangerous communists was holding a meeting, and
that this group was armed."
The source of this police "tip" has never been disclosed. There
is no record of it at headquarters. The police invaded the Herald
home without a warrant. "They had no right under the law to
enter that home. They had no authority for the arrest of anyone
there," says the Tampa Tribune editorially.
Next Tittsworth morsel was his statement that his investigation
"conclusively established" that no policemen had participated
"directly or indirectly" in the flogging. The Tampa Tribune ridi-
culed this, said, "The flogging murder case really dates from the
invasion, by police, of the home of A. M. Herald."
Final Tittsworth tidbit was a statement that the victims "had
not been hurt anything like the newspapers had stated." The chief
went on to say that he had evidence— "not yet written up"— that
Rogers and Poulnot were seen at a filling station four hours after
they were kidnaped, that both were fully dressed, their hair not
even mussed, and they "were buying wine."
Tittsworth was later removed by the Mayor, and he is now
busy aiding the defense, whose chief attorney is the Mayor's
AN $18,000,000 INDUSTRY
It is ironical that one of the provisions of Tampa's incorporation
papers eighty-one years ago was this:
"To prevent and abate nuisances; to restrain and prevent
For gambling is Tampa's largest industry today, grossing in a
month what cigar manufacturing — the city's second largest in-
dustry—does in a year. $18,000,000 a year is not to be sneezed
at. That is why the politicians get their rake-off. That is why the
city resembles an armed camp on election day. Last year Governor
Sholtz sent in the militia. On primary day in September, 1,100
special deputies were recruited and armed with shotguns, pistols,
and hoe handles.
Three of these deputies were Arlie F. Gillian, grave caretaker,
Ed Spivey, typewriter repairman, and James Dean, electrician, all
from Orlando, all Klansmen, and all indicted for Shoemaker's mur-
t. Gillian was a former state officer of the Klan. He and Spivey
through Tampa in a police car all primary day; then were
"'O apiece at the police station.
It would be difficult to find a single election in the last ten
years in which votes were not stolen. It is common knowledge
that city and county elections are crooked. Time and again, men
have been indicted for vote frauds, but the inevitable whitewash
has always followed. Sam E. Crosby, one of the policemen arrest-
ed for the Shoemaker murder, was added to the police force the
day after the kidnaping — after his acquital in criminal courts on
a vote fraud charge!
The Special Grand Jury called in to solve the Shoemaker case
was also instructed to clean out the racketeers. Early witnesses
claimed that more* than 400 liquor stores were thriving, although
only 53 licenses had ever been issued. These witnesses also gave
evidence of more than 78 gambling houses.
In the September primary of last year an opposition candidate,
backed by Governor Sholtz, ran without success against Mayor
Chancey. After the primary, Shoemaker formed the Modern Dem-
ocrats, which put up Miller A. Stephens against Chancey in the
final election. The Modern Democrats made a remarkable show-
ing and claim they would have won in an honest election. Not
only were votes stolen from Stephens at the point of guns, but
thousands of non-existent votes were clocked up for Chancey.
All parties but the Democratic party are barred from the ballot
in Florida. The Socialists backed the Modern Democrats.
It was the graft and corruption of Tampa's political chiefs and
underworld, as well as the cooperation between the Klan and
police, which led to the brazen kidnaping of men who sought only
to organize those on relief, turn the gambling ring out of politics.
Public opinion is running high against Klan activity. The
American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Tampa Bar
Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the Tampa Ministerial
Association and a dozen civic and church groups have joined with
the county Teachers' Federation and the Central Trades and
Labor Assembly in demanding action on the murder case and a
cleanup of gambling.
The American Civil Liberties Union, early in the case, oftV
$1,000 for the arrest and conviction of the kidnapers, $2,500
was added to this reward by the Tampa Board of Aiders
William Green has demanded full investigation and punish-
ment, threatening that "the American Federation of Labor may
find it necessary to change the holding of the convention in No-
vember, 1936, to some other city ..." William Green also sent a
request to Wendell Heaton, head of the Florida State Federation
of Labor, to investigate the kidnaping. Heaton reported back that
organized labor was not involved in the case, and that the federa-
tion convention should not be shifted. Heaton forgot to add that
he, himself, was in politics, holding down a job as state industrial
commissioner. This reply did not satisfy Green, who re-iterated his
protests and asked Heaton to do likewise.
In the past, many "good citizens" of Tampa have either par-
ticipated in the gambling and election frauds, or have condoned
them. Today, all Tampa is aroused. There is a growing realization
that fascism may come to the land of orange groves in white
hoods instead of brown shirts-
But many Tampans are cynical. They have seen too much
whitewash in the past" few years. Their attitude is best expressed
by a billboard in a local lumber yard: "Tar Today— Whitewash
Tomorrow." The Florida press has the same attitude. Editorial
after editorial, in paper after paper, poses this one question:
"Will Tampa whitewash this case, too?"
Four years ago, the same Tampa Tribune, which now is clamor-
ing for action, supported the cigar manufacturers in their ruth-
less suppression of unionism, in their frameups, kidnapings and
deportations of labor men. But the violence initiated by the em-
ployers and kept alive by the Klan is now causing consternation
among some who tolerated it. Unfavorable publicity has hurt
Tampa. It is keeping industry from the city. It is keeping tourists
from the city.
Nine mobsters have been indicted for the kidnap-murder — six
policemen and three other Klansmen. But an indictment is not a
conviction. A number of prominent cigar manufacturers put up
'-ail for the indicted men. There is no question but that they have
" secret backing of some of the very people who are protesting
*" orously against the crime in public! There is grave possi-
it before the trial, or during the trial (in February) some
new political deal will be arranged. A few men may be made the
scapegoats. They may be sent to jail for short terms— for which
they will be well repaid!
To combat this possibility, the Committee for the Defense oi
Civil Rights in Tampa has been formed!
IT'S UP TO YOU!
The case must not die down. Investigation must proceed. More
evidence must be dug up. To do this, the Committee has its own
men in the field. Here is a chance not only to fight for the right to
organize the working class and for civil rights an Tampa, but also
to wipe out the gangsterism of the Ku Klux Klan. It is a chance
to show the Klan and their fellow vigilantes throughout the
country, to show the night riders of the South that they can t get
away with their mobsterisms any more.
Will Tampa wipe out the ugly mask of an American fascism
that lurks beneath the white hood?
Will the murderers of Joseph Shoemaker be convicted?
The answer is up to you.
What You Can Do to Help :
1. Protest individually— or have your union or any other
organization protest and demand action from:
Mayor R. E. L. Chancey, Tampa, Florida
Governor Dave Sholtz, Tallahassee, Florida
2. Order more of these pamphlets, sell them to your friends,
and enlist them in this fight.
3. Send contributions to finance the Committee's work to
NORMAN THOMAS, Chairman
MARY FOX, Treasurer
COMMITTEE For The DEFENSE OF CIVIL RIGHTS IN T A*
Room 506, 112 East 19th Street, New York Cit-
Additional copies of this pamphlet may be obtained from the
Committee or from any of the organizations constituting the
Committee for the Defense of Civil Rights in Tampa
Norman Thomas, Chairman
Room 506, 112 East 19tii Street, New York City
Labor and Socialist Defense Committee
League for Industrial Democracy
American Civil Liberties Union
General Defense Committee
Non-Partisan Labor Defense
Emergency Committee for Strikers' Relief
Workers Alliance of America
Negro Labor Committee
New York Dressmakers Joint Board, I.L.G.W.U.
Social Action Committee of the Congregational Church
Local 22, International Ladies Garment Workers Union
Suit Case, Bag and Portfolio Makers Union
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